Supreme Court leaves TCPA intact; strikes down exception for government debt collection -
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) remains in place, but the exception permitting robocalls for government debt collection has fallen, in a decision by the US Supreme Court addressing the constitutionality of the statute. Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, No. 19-631 (July 6, 2020). Although some commentators had predicted that the Court might use the opportunity to strike down the robocalling provisions of the TCPA as an unconstitutional restriction on the right to free speech, the Court opted for a more limited path. In a case where the justices seemed mostly in agreement on the appropriate outcome, if not the reasoning, six of the justices agreed that the exception for government debt collection—allowing such calls to be made without the same restrictions placed on other calls—was an impermissible content-based distinction under the First Amendment. But there was little appetite for striking down the TCPA in its entirety. Seven of the justices agreed that the appropriate remedy was severing the unconstitutional exception, leaving the remainder of the TCPA in place. Only Justices Gorsuch and Thomas advocated striking down the TCPA’s broader restrictions on robocalls.
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